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Obama to Meet Latino Caucus on Deportations

Caucus members and immigration advocates have been pressuring the president to reduce deportations.
Image: Luis Gutierrez
Illinois Democratic congressman Luis Gutierrez will be one of several Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) members attending a meeting at the White House on March 13, 2014, in which the topic of deportations is expected to be discussed. Alex Brandon / ASSOCIATED PRESS

Three members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) were invited to a White House meeting on Thursday while they were in the midst of negotiating whether to ask the president to take action on deportation. A White House official confirmed the President will meet with the members to discuss immigration reform legislation.

The caucus had met for an afternoon lunch to vote on a resolution on deportations that have been nearing 2 million under President Barack Obama's watch. Members of the immigrant community and their advocates have been stepping up pressure on Obama to slow or suspend deportations after Republicans put aside advancing immigration reform legislation this year.

Three members of the caucus are to attend the late afternoon meeting, according to Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz. "We had a robust and very honest discussion on the resolution before us that had been vetted by Luis Gutierrez," Grijalva said."At the discussion, we were notified that there had been a meeting the president had requested with some of the leadership of the caucus."

Grijalva said there was general support for the resolution but members took a recess out of courtesy to the president, to meet with him first and and to await the outcome of the meeting before proceeding. The caucus was to reconvene as 7 p.m.

Most recently Janet Murguía, the president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza, joined in criticism of the president for the record number of immigrants being sent out of the country by calling the President "Deporter in Chief" in a speech. Some groups had already been calling on him to take action as is NCLR, but the criticism from Murguia, whose group tends to be more moderate, signaled a growing frustration within the Latino community.

On Wednesday House Republicans passed legislation attempting to curtail the President's authority that he could pass to extend deferrment of deportation to more immigrants who are not legally in the country.

"Our membership whether we like it or not have a responsibility to a vast constituency of Latinos. We are their voices and we are elected to Congress," Grijalva said. "I think a collective voice from our caucus has implications from the individual member ... To hear from all the caucus ... say Mr. President you need to do something, I think that is very important."

Most members left the meeting declining to comment, including Texas Democratic Rep. Ruben Hinojosa, the caucus chairman. "I'm not prepared to speak," Hinojosa said.